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Recording and editing MIDI


Digital Audio Principles

with Dave Schroeder

Video: Recording and editing MIDI

So we're back in Pro Tools, and we're looking at a couple of MIDI tracks. So let's just zoom in, and you'll notice right away we're not looking at waveforms now; we are looking at more or less little points on a graph. And you can see that we have the notes of the scale represented on the left, and then again, it's time. It's our timeline. So let's go ahead and zoom in and just take a look at what these look like up close. I will zoom them up a little bit, and you can see that there are little dots on the grid; they correspond to different notes on the grid.
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  1. 50s
    1. Welcome
  2. 39m 8s
    1. What is sound?
      4m 15s
    2. Hertz and frequency response
      5m 34s
    3. Phase
      2m 38s
    4. Capturing audio
      3m 39s
    5. Sample rate
      6m 16s
    6. Bit depth
      9m 47s
    7. The waveform
      5m 3s
    8. Audio file formats
      1m 56s
  3. 7m 24s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      2m 59s
    2. Typical DAW signal flow
      4m 25s
  4. 50m 31s
    1. What microphones do
      1m 57s
    2. Element types
      4m 59s
    3. Pickup patterns
      6m 51s
    4. Axis
      2m 52s
    5. Frequency response and the proximity effect
      5m 10s
    6. Phase issues
      1m 41s
    7. Microphone types
      8m 44s
    8. Miking vocals
      5m 39s
    9. Miking amplifiers
      2m 16s
    10. Miking drums
      10m 22s
  5. 16m 37s
    1. Cables and connectors overview
      2m 42s
    2. Balanced and unbalanced cables
      3m 18s
    3. Common cable types
      7m 13s
    4. Cable tips
      3m 24s
  6. 12m 16s
    1. What is an I/O device?
      1m 41s
    2. Analog to digital conversion
      3m 10s
    3. Tour of an audio interface
      4m 49s
    4. Interface considerations
      2m 36s
  7. 21m 3s
    1. What is a preamp?
      3m 21s
    2. Input levels
      5m 29s
    3. Padding
      2m 17s
    4. Phantom power
      2m 37s
    5. Phase reverse
      3m 4s
    6. Preamp demo
      4m 15s
  8. 12m 56s
    1. What is a mixer?
      5m 55s
    2. Input section
      1m 17s
    3. Channel strips
      3m 16s
    4. Master section
      2m 28s
  9. 18m 20s
    1. What is monitoring?
      2m 11s
    2. Speakers
      4m 47s
    3. Room considerations
      5m 42s
    4. Headphone types
      3m 50s
    5. Monitoring levels
      1m 50s
  10. 15m 23s
    1. What role do computers play?
      1m 36s
    2. Performance issues
      4m 11s
    3. Hard drives
      4m 38s
    4. Mechanical noise
      2m 10s
    5. Authorization
      2m 48s
  11. 6m 53s
    1. Planning for recording
    2. Doing a system check
      1m 26s
    3. Planning your inputs
      1m 42s
    4. The recording environment
      2m 51s
  12. 25m 51s
    1. Types of digital audio software
    2. Multi-track recorders/sequencers
      4m 56s
    3. Two-track recorders/waveform editors
      4m 55s
    4. Loop-based music production software
      5m 44s
    5. Plug-ins
      6m 56s
    6. Other varieties
      2m 43s
  13. 18m 58s
    1. Common components
    2. The transport
      2m 3s
    3. The toolbar
      3m 19s
    4. The Edit/Arrange window
      4m 42s
    5. The mixer
      5m 8s
    6. The file list
      3m 0s
  14. 19m 16s
    1. Setting up a session
      3m 30s
    2. Assigning inputs and getting signals
      3m 19s
    3. Input modes
      3m 27s
    4. Overdubbing and punching
      5m 14s
    5. Bouncing down
      3m 46s
  15. 19m 40s
    1. What is editing?
      1m 20s
    2. Waveforms
      2m 53s
    3. Making silent cuts and trims
      7m 1s
    4. Fades and automation
      8m 26s
  16. 1h 22m
    1. What are plug-ins?
      3m 0s
    2. Using plug-ins
      6m 11s
    3. EQs
      7m 4s
    4. Dynamics pt. 1: Compressors, limiters, expanders, and gates
      5m 40s
    5. Dynamics pt 2: Applying dynamic effects
      7m 2s
    6. Pitch shifting
      6m 13s
    7. Reverb
      9m 28s
    8. Echo and delay
      6m 23s
    9. Modulation effects: Phaser, flanger, and chorus
      9m 39s
    10. Sound tools pt. 1: About, gain, normalize
      7m 39s
    11. Sound tools pt. 2: Reverse and time compression/expansion
      6m 28s
    12. Sound tools pt. 3: Noise reducers, dither
      8m 11s
  17. 23m 42s
    1. What is MIDI?
      3m 6s
    2. Keyboard controllers
      1m 22s
    3. Computer-based virtual instruments
      1m 6s
    4. Control surfaces
      1m 6s
    5. Recording and editing MIDI
      12m 4s
    6. Virtual instruments
      4m 58s
  18. 27m 29s
    1. What is mixing?
      1m 54s
    2. Some common objectives
      3m 4s
    3. Some useful techniques
      5m 59s
    4. A quick mixing demo
      16m 32s
  19. 18m 48s
    1. What is mastering?
      2m 24s
    2. Sonic maximization
      9m 43s
    3. Final preparations and exporting
      6m 41s
  20. 13m 12s
    1. What is audio compression?
      2m 16s
    2. Popular formats
      2m 9s
    3. Bit rate, sample rate, and channels
      5m 20s
    4. Other adjustments and considerations
      3m 27s
  21. 15m 5s
    1. Essential gear
      7m 36s
    2. Voice recording setups
      1m 42s
    3. The voice production process
      5m 47s
  22. 10m 4s
    1. Analog vs. digital
      2m 48s
    2. Tube vs. solid state
      5m 6s
    3. The continual upgrade
      2m 10s
  23. 18s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Digital Audio Principles
7h 57m Appropriate for all Mar 02, 2007

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Whether one is producing music, podcasts, game sounds, or film sound effects, Digital Audio Principles provides the tips and techniques that will make the project a success. Author Dave Schroeder explains the basics of digital audio production techniques and covers the essential hardware and software. He also discusses sound theory, frequency response, the range of human hearing, and dynamic range.

Audio + Music
Dave Schroeder

Recording and editing MIDI

So we're back in Pro Tools, and we're looking at a couple of MIDI tracks. So let's just zoom in, and you'll notice right away we're not looking at waveforms now; we are looking at more or less little points on a graph. And you can see that we have the notes of the scale represented on the left, and then again, it's time. It's our timeline. So let's go ahead and zoom in and just take a look at what these look like up close. I will zoom them up a little bit, and you can see that there are little dots on the grid; they correspond to different notes on the grid.

Let's zoom back out. And I have the drum track in here that I have gone ahead and drawn in. So I am going to go ahead and play it back and just let you see what's happening. (drums playing) So that's a MIDI drum track, and what it's doing is it's actually--there is no sound here. It's playing back. It's sending information. What we're looking at represents information. It's saying, play this note and play it for this long at this point in time, and where that information is going right now is to another device, in this case a virtual instrument which has a bunch of sound samples in it, and it receives that information and plays back what we are asking it to, based on what we load.

In the next movie, we will talk about virtual instruments a little bit more, so I don't want to get into them too much right now. Let's focus on what you can do with MIDI once you have it in the software world. One of the things about recorded MIDI data, or tracks of MIDI, is that it's very easy to manipulate in a lot of different ways. So let's move in and just drag and move a couple things around. I will show you what I mean. So in this drum track I have a kick drum that's assigned to this note and a snare drum and then some shakers up here, some tambourine. So I can click on that, and you can hear it when I click.

It will preview, and I can drag it to a different tambourine sound. (drums playing) There are some snares. (drums playing) So I can pick what sounds I want. So those are all sounds in my sampler in my virtual instrument. As I change what note they are assigned to, we get a different sound; same goes for the snare. (drums playing) So, that's what you can do in terms of moving it up and down the scale and which note it's assigned to.

We can also adjust the length of these notes. So if I don't want it to be as long-- Now in this case, where we have drums, the length isn't going to be a big deal. Although I think maybe with our kick drum we might be able to get a sense of it. (drum playing) Yeah, that's kind of a nice long beat. So if we go in and shorten up that file, now I am telling it, hey, play this sample but only for this long. Let's see if that's long enough, (drums playing) Let's shorten it more, so it's just a real snap. (drums playing) So as you can see, we can extend the duration of the different notes really pretty easily.

We can also delete or add notes really pretty easily as well. We can highlight a note and hit the old Delete button, and it's a goner. Or I can bring that back via Undo. Or I can go ahead and draw in new notes. I think on this drum track I am going to listen back. I want to add in a little something new and kind of cool. I am going to change. I am going to pick my grid there. Okay, 16th notes. (drums playing) Yeah, I am going to put a couple of things in here. Yeah, that's what I want to use. Let's check this out.

(drums playing) Yeah, this is contemporary stuff. Don't be surprised if you hear this on the radio next time you are out in California. (drums playing) So we can draw MIDI notes in. Really cool. And then if I don't like those, we can maybe change that sound again. (drums playing) Cool! The other thing we can do is change the velocity of notes, and to do that I have to pick a different view here, say, let me show me the velocity information. But I can go in, and right now, this represents the velocity of the all the notes on this MIDI track.

I can actually pick a note and then change the velocity. I can drag it down or add more velocity. Now velocity is the attack, or how hard or how loud the sound is, to simplify it. That allows us to change the dynamics of the track we're working. And so if we don't want all of the snare hits to be of the same volume, I can go ahead and make some a little quieter and some a little louder. Usually I like to make that first accent snare a little softer and make that hit that's on the beat a little heavier. So let's go ahead and make that kind of adjustment.

I'll make this one really quiet for demonstration purposes. So I am changing the velocity. (drums playing) So you get that ta-dum. So that's playing with the velocity. This is really cool, and this is a really cool feature. And you'll see that when we record in a few tracks that it's nice to be able to record in some MIDI, but then the fact that you can manipulate it in so many different ways allows you to perform it but then fine-tune your performance.

But sometimes you don't need to perform at all; you can just build the track from the scratch and draw it in. I just used the Pencil tool to lay out this drumbeat, and that's why it's such an excellent drumbeat, because I made it with a pencil. But there's a lot of potential, and you can have a lot of fun with MIDI. The other thing you can do with MIDI is a thing called quantize, and basically that's the idea of shifting notes so that they make sense in a grid, or in a certain pattern. So let's take a listen. I have got some notes that I know I didn't put in so well, and we are going to quantize those and try and fix them, or get them where I want them in relationship to kind of the tempo and the beat.

(drums playing) Yeah, I kind of choked there. Let's take it back a little further, so you can hear it, and I will zoom in too. Yeah, we can see them. (drums playing) So let's go in and try to fix that. Let's take a good look, and we simply look at two of these at once. So I am going to go in and highlight all those notes. It looks like I have got some real issues here with my 16th notes up here and where my kicks are landing.

So I am going to go ahead and work with the MIDI, and do something called quantize. Here it is: Grid/Groove Quantize. And in here I can pick the increments I want to quantize to, or more or less the grid I want my notes to pay attention to and to shift to. So if we just pay attention to these notes and look at that mess, and I am going to hit the Apply button, and it will quantize them, and you'll see what happens. Suddenly it looks like they're a little bit more in line. So let's take a listen.

(drums playing) Yes, definitely better. Now quantize isn't the sure thing; you have to really pay attention to how you apply it. Sometimes it has to make a decision about this note that's off. Sometimes it might shift it over here when you apply it, but another time it might decide it's this one based on how close it is, or where it thinks you meant to put it. So you can't just hit the magic button and then assume you have gold. It's always important to listen back and make sure that when you quantized it, it got the effect you wanted.

Now that sort of quantizing sets everything right to the Grid perfectly. There's another thing called Groove Quantizing, which deals with offsetting notes slightly so they are not in such a perfect mechanical order, which is one of the things you will hear when people talk about MIDI. It's easy to make things very perfect and lay things out perfectly on the timeline against the grid, but a lot of times we know that music has imperfections, or musicians have different emphasis on different notes, and it's not all about the perfect 'right- on-the-money' music all the time. So a lot of times you'll find people criticize MIDI or people who use MIDI because they make things a little too perfect and there's not as much feeling in there or whatever.

So they've come up with something called Groove Quantize, and this is available in lots of different programs. And basically it's the idea of trying to humanize, or add some feel, to the quantizing process so it's not so perfect. And it will allow you to choose from different feels like ahead of the beat, behind the beat, swinging it a little bit, et cetera. So that's out there. And if you get a work with quantizing, I definitely encourage you to check that out, because adding the human feel to your MIDI is definitely something worth pursuing. In the meantime, I am going to go ahead and actually fix this, because I can.

(drums playing) All right, so quantize is one more thing we can do with MIDI. Now, it's important to know that we're working here with a drum track, but actually we can use this. This is just information, and we can use it to trigger any sounds we want. So actually I have an organ track down here that hopefully you won't find too offensive but I think is kind groovy, just to show that we can assign different voices to this MIDI information and play back all sorts of different voices.

Check it out! (music playing) That's some good stuff, and I know it's going to be big. But it's not quite done yet, because I got to put some more tracks on here. I need some handclaps in there if this is going to be a true educational video piece of music, which I have a special affinity for. So we are going to add a little big of handclap here, and we are actually going to take a look at recording MIDI, which will be exciting.

So in this session I have already added my claps track, because I knew I had to have them. Now I am going to go ahead and arm the track for recording. We will zoom out a little bit, so we get a better view, and I am going to go ahead and see if I've got my claps sound. Remember, when we were showing you the setups, right now I am going to be pushing some keys on the keyboard controller to trigger the clap sound. (clap sounds) Oh yeah, I have got them. So I am going to try and record some new claps for this hot track. Here we go. Just like recording audio, record arm, hit the button, hit Play, and we will see a little bit of recording in process.

(music playing) That was pretty awful, but look, there are my claps. (music playing) Oh yeah, that one is good.

Well, I like these two, so I am just going to ahead and copy those two and duplicate them, and that's why I play it more than once. (music playing) You can see that my quantizing effort has actually failed. I must have highlighted the wrong thing there. So that's it. That's recording MIDI, and that's working with MIDI in the software. So there is a quick look at recording MIDI.

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